There has not been much to recommend the future lately,
but still you go outside in gumboots, three layers of wool,
the rhythms of the garden offering solace.
Under dark hills that are not the mountain
you were born under, you prepare the beds
for the shortest day. Preventative medicine.
You stoop, claw at the earth
digging over the dirt, raking in
sheep manure and comfrey tea.
You hope to grow enough for a whole year. It
will hang in plaits around the garage, drying
in the warm summer air, warding off colds and evil spirits.
Have you noticed how there is a lull in the cold,
before it rains? It gets a little warmer. This is
what to look for – small breaks in the weather. Breathers.
When a friend brings you cloves
of new varieties: silverskin, purple stripe –
you cradle them like a papery currency, rustling gift.
This is storing and healing. This is
planning and tending. With muddy fists,
you take possession of the year.
The Comforter was launched on Friday, 2 December and is Helen Lehndorf’s debut book. It can be purchased from good bookshops.